Well, I never thought I’d be writing an article on what to cook during a global pandemic and national quarantine, but here we are. I keep wishing I’m stuck inside an episode of "Arrested Development" or "Portlandia," but it’s looking like our version of this defunct show is real. For that reason, please be advised that I must use humor to stay sane. 

How are all of you staying sane? Are you revamping your life from top to bottom? Or falling into the abyss of binge-worthy shows and comfy clothes? Or are you somewhere in between just trying to take it day by day? I’m definitely part of the last group, and I’m making a ton of jokes to keep laughing when things seem weird. 

Like many other people around the country, we are doing school from home while also struggling to work from home, and are blessed to even have that option right now. All this means prioritizing emotions. I don’t want to be frustrated, so I just leave that feeling at the end of my list and turn to it infrequently (I say as I tell my toddler to stop licking all the Doritos and then stuff them back in the bag. Ugh! But that’s the fastest way to a personal bag, am I right?). 

But realistically, I just can’t work and teach from a home where there is literally no escape and be frustrated, too, so I breathe peace whenever I can. We are all trying to create new schedules, and there’s been a lot of grace shown by many, many people in trying to make all this work. I’m so grateful for so many people right now, and that helps me breathe in the peace I need to get through the tough days.

With that said, I go between big serious feelings and grateful feelings all at once. When my hands feel tied, which they often do, I just want to give. Whether it's time, donations or a feeling of a hug, my hands feel unbound when I do for others. If you are feeling anxiety during this time, I encourage you to give because there are so many wins in doing that. Giving doesn’t mean something costly or expensive. It can be something as free as your time and attention by calling someone in need, offering to mow someone’s yard, sending a gift card for a coffee or making dinner. 

It's beneficial in my case to literally use my hands and time and pass on kindness. It’s my small way of believing that we can and will prevail. I use food as a way to give and connect when the world says we are too busy and too serious.

If the quarantine has taught me anything, it’s that we have always had time to give, but maybe we didn’t prioritize it enough. If you feel inclined to give to someone, make this dinner. It makes enough for you and enough to share with someone who might need a hug (don’t we all right now?).

Stay healthy and kind, friends. It might be a treacherous road we’re travelling, but hopefully we can use kindness to lift each other up during the journey.

 

Greek Chicken with Sausage in Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
  • 1 package smoked sausage of your choice, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/2 each of red and green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp. garlic paste
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, destemmed and minced
  • juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • Greek seasoning of your choice to taste 
  • 4 tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups broth
  • 1/4 heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Season chicken and sausage with Greek seasoning and set aside. 

  2. Heat oil in a large skillet or pot, add in chicken and cook until browned. Add in sausage and continue cooking for additional 2-3 minutes. 

  3. Remove meat with a slotted spoon onto a plate and set aside. 

  4. In the same skillet, add in onions and both peppers. Add in a little extra oil if necessary. Cook until lightly golden.

  5. Add in garlic, oregano, rosemary and lemon zest and juice. Continue cooking until incorporated. About 1-2 minutes. 

  6. Add in the butter and allow to melt. Once melted, add in flour and stir into the entire mixture and allow to cook for another minute. 

  7. Slowly add in the broth while mixing the entire time to ensure there are no lumps. It’ll start to thicken in a couple of minutes. 

  8. Return all the sausage and chicken into the pan and stir together. Add in the heavy cream and mix. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until your chicken is completely cooked through. 

  9. Taste for seasonings and add in more Greek seasoning and/or salt and pepper if necessary. 

  10. Add in fresh parsley and serve with mashed potatoes, rice, or pasta of your choice. 

 

From Z to A with Zara Abbasi

Zara Abbasi is the pastry chef and recipe developer for Zara Made It. Follow her food adventures on Instagram at @zaramadeit